Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

What the Snakes Wrote

Hutchins, Hazel (Author)
Holdcroft, Tina (Illustrator)
Annick Press 2013. 32 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781554514731 (hardcover)
9781554514724 (paperback)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Rufus the dog understands that the snakes are trying to write words using their bodies—but he can’t read. Young readers will enjoy sounding out the snakes’ messages, as Rufus urges the farmer to come take a look. “Dog. Please help. Snakes in trouble. Need …”

The story’s theme of communication is illustrated by Rufus’s attempts to catch the farmer’s attention (nipping, running in circles, howling), and the farmer’s own conversations with his dog: “Sorry I can’t play now … this hole is deep and dangerous … a horse might break its leg.” Readers may wish to guess what the snakes need. They’ll enjoy Rufus’s hijinks, including stealing the farmer’s shovel to lead him back to the snakes’ latest words: “SAVE OUR HOME.”

Illustrations of cartoon-like animal characters are expressive and fun. Rufus tears about the farm, ears flopping. The snakes smile as the farmer erects a fence to protect their hole. A proud Rufus prances in the distance, as readers decipher the snakes’ final message: “Thanks.”

Back material offers additional information about snakes and hibernation, in humorous and conversational language: “Hurrah for snakes!”

  •  

    Use a graphic organizer to record your prior knowledge about snakes.

  •  

    Retell the story on a timeline incorporating both pictures and words.

  •  

    With a partner, write some True or False questions about snakes based on the information at the back of the book and other teacher-selected resources. Play a whole class game of answering the questions by walking to areas of the class designated with signs: TRUE or FALSE.

  •  

    Discuss the story. What is the author’s message in this book?

  •  Compare the snakes in the story with real garter snakes. How are they similar or different? Use a graphic organizer to show your results.
  •  

    Discuss how this situation can be transferred to humans. How do people communicate when they need help? Does the communication change whether it’s urgent or not? Make a class list of expressions to use when you need help.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Science and Technology